Mr Justin Braver (VIC) at AHA 2022

Attending the AHA 2022 conference in Chicago was a privilege and I am grateful to the CSANZ for supporting my attendance via a Travelling Fellowship. I am a physiotherapist by background, undertaking a PhD at The University of Melbourne in the Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health.

My research is exploring the effectiveness of disease management programs that incorporate digital health to prevent recurring cardiovascular events and mortality in patients with an acute coronary syndrome. I concurrently work in industry for a health insurer, whereby I design and implement remotely delivered preventative health programs.

At the AHA, I presented my research in the “Digital Health to Manage Cardiovascular Disease” session. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a 6-8 week digitally enabled cardiac rehabilitation program on improving risk factors and health status in patients who were hospitalized for coronary artery disease in Australia. Longer term follow-up over 12 months for hospital readmissions and mortality was also evaluated. All participants had private health insurance hospital cover with one provider. We showed that a digitally enabled cardiac rehab program improved clinical, behavioral and lifestyle risk factors. There was also a trend towards lower readmissions and mortality rates in people who undertook either the digitally enabled program or a traditional face-to-face cardiac rehab program compared to a propensity matched control group who did not undertake any cardiac rehabilitation program.

My area of interest at the conference centred around digital health to improve CVD outcomes. Leading researchers from Stanford, Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic presented on key themes, namely digital health equity (“techequity”), patient centred design, wearables (including their use across the health journey from wellbeing, diagnostics & disease management) and a lot of discussion on the influence of sleep for heart health. Moreover, it was interesting to learn that many of the same challenges that we face here in Australia are also felt globally. The issues around the underutilisation of cardiac rehab and the importance of co-design when developing digitally enabled healthcare programs are key for preventing recurrent events and mortality in patients suffering from acute coronary syndromes.

View Justin’s Abstract, “Effectiveness of a Digital Health Enabled Cardiac Rehabilitation Program in Reducing Recurrent Events For Private Health Insurance Patients in Australia” in AHA Journal, Circulation on the link here and below: